Kangaroo care or wearing your baby in a Kangaroo pouch looks much like a kangaroo carrying their baby in their pouch. The popularity of this method of care increased in the early 1980's when researchers found that premature infants in Bogata Columbia responded, and even thrived when they were carried in a Kangaroo pouch.
In the early 1980's the infant mortality rate was at 70 percent ' or 70 percent of the infants born were dying from lack of attention, prematurity, illness or disease. Once physicians introduced the use of the Kangaroo pouch the mortality rate dropped significantly. Following these results, the popularity of this method of care for newborns, especially premature newborns, took off.
Today, in the U.S. there are several hospitals that regularly use Kangaroo care in the treatment of premature infants. Mothers and fathers are encouraged to hold their baby's skin to skin with only a diaper between the mother and the baby for up to 3 hours per day. In Bogata, the premature babies are held for 24 hours on their mother's chest, skin to skin. If oxygen is needed it is administered via an oxygen tent placed on moms chest.
The benefits of Kangaroo care are numerous and amazing. When babies are nestled skin to skin on their mother's chest they have a more stable heart rate without evidence of bradycardia (slowing of the heart), more regular breathing and improved saturation levels of oxygen. Babies have no cold stress, sleep longer and more soundly, have more rapid weight gain, more rapid brain development, decreased crying, longer periods of alertness and are more successful at breastfeeding.
But the benefits to the mother and child don't stop with the child. Mom also experiences greater bonding with their baby's who are separated in isolettes in the NICU and they have greater confidence that they can care for their baby once they are discharged. And, because discharges are often earlier and with healthier babies, the cost is also significantly decreased.
Because a baby is better able to sleep and maintain a normal temperature they conserve calories, which can be routed toward gaining weight and brain development. Interestingly nature provided the most perfect isolette for the baby right between mom's breasts. The temperature of the breasts will warm or cool in response to the temperature of the baby's body ' by as much as 35 degrees F in two minutes!
Using a Kangaroo pouch breastfeeding is not only more private experience for you and your baby but also gives you the opportunity to breastfeed skin to skin while maintaining eye contact. Mothers often use blankets over their baby when they are nursing in a public venue. However, this doesn't allow for the eye to eye contact that is so important in the neurological development and bonding of mother and child. Nursing in a Kangaroo pouch also allows the child to nurse as often and as frequently as they desire since they are in the correct position and have ready access.
Researchers have found that nursing frequently improves the baby's satisfaction and decreases crying. Nursing improves mom's breast milk supply and decreases the blood loss after birth. It also improves the bond between mom and baby that is related to the hormones that are released during the process of nursing.
Wearing a Kangaroo pouch breastfeeding has been found to improve the health of premature infants in the nursery, improve the weight gain and brain development of all babies and improve the mother and child bond. This is a process that is a win-win situation for all involved.